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#ThinkingAllowed: Coming up Next … Gibraltar

Brexit means … a very big number of upset Gibraltarians, though not necessarily surprised. But, we have been through worse. This however is a time for diplomacy.

The International media is pointing its spotlight in our direction. We must grab what is good about this situation – a unique opportunity to tell the world who we are, what we want and what we expect and have been promised.

It’s an exposure that money cannot buy. Yes, it would have been best for Gibraltar not to find itself in this position. But, as a result Gibraltar has been hitting the headlines in a dramatic way.

Gibraltar was the top story on BBC News at 10 this week. A programme highly respected and admired in the UK. It attracts more than four million viewers every day. Millions around the world have also watched and listened on BBC World Service, there too Gibraltar has been leading. There has also been rolling news on Sky News of the developing situation.

From ITV to CNN. From Spanish Networks to radio stations, leading British Newspapers and many more. Wherever anyone turned to for news the Rock of Gibraltar was featuring.

Gibraltar has been trending on major online platforms – Google Trends, Facebook and Twitter.

On Saturday ‘Gibraltar’ was more popular on the web than The Voice UK and Ant and Dec Saturday Night’s Takeaway. The spike in searches was spectacular. On Twitter it was Top Trending and continued very high during the entire weekend.

The Government’s press office has been inundated with interview requests for Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.

These are the times when Gibraltar needs to stand behind their elected leaders. This is not about party politics. This is about our homeland.

I was flying to Gibraltar from London on the day the news broke. Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Garcia was on the same flight. He was speaking on the phone to Radio Gibraltar before take-off – already offering an initial reaction. Not for a single moment during the entire flight did he appear to stop working.

Like Fabian Picardo he has a huge capacity to deal with work load. The Chief Minister has practically been doing interviews back to back.

But, what does all the media attention translate into? Does it mean we have the support we want, particularly from the UK? It’s a question I put to Sky News Sunrise Presenter Stephen Dixon. He had interviewed me on his programme about the situation on Saturday morning. It was time to now ask him what he thought:
“It’s clear that Gibraltarians can face this situation knowing that the people and the press have their backs. As unpleasant as it is to have your future questioned, the newspapers will ring out in defiance, reminding Gibraltar that our bond is stronger than ever,” he told me.

Stephen Dixon, who has visited Gibraltar several times and admits to having “fallen in love with the place” said: “The passion and commitment for Gibraltar stirs out of nowhere when it’s under threat. Newspaper headlines, TV interviews and suddenly Twitter is alive with people supporting our Gibraltarian cousins. I try to keep a calm head and impartial view when broadcasting but my heart fills with pride seeing politicians and the public standing firm for the Rock. I know I’m English, but I’ve lost a piece of my heart to Gibraltar.”

Not everyone will be of the same view. We need to accept that and come to grips with it. But, just like we expect the world to listen to us we shouldn’t shut out other views either. It is by being exposed to others with different views that we learn more and become stronger.

Some have felt the questioning of Fabian Picardo on the Andrew Marr Show was unfair. I think it did us a favour. If we emerge victorious from difficult and tough questioning we have a better chance of convincing those who are not on our side.

The Chief Minister handled the situation very well and must continue to be and come across as a leader in control, calm and 100% confident on our position.

No-one (whether you agree with his policies or not) can say he has not had the best interests of Gibraltar at heart. He has also raised his profile significantly. His Twitter followers have spiraled and amongst his list are editors, journalists and politicians. They will be great contacts for the future.

It may not have been the news we wanted. But, Gibraltar small in size is dominating the news agenda in a very big way.

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